The Annual Conference will happen in October 2024 on the 15th and 16th. More details in terms of Venue and Theme to follow.

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14th July 2024

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March 2024 Dear Comrades, on March 21, 1960, police officers in the Vaal township opened fire on a group of people peacefully protesting oppressive laws. Sixty‐nine protestors were killed. The

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January 2024 Dear comrade, much has happened to us as an organisation and the world we inhabit. Whilst we witness on our screens the wanton killings of Palestinians, done with impunity,

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Survival mining version 25 Jan 24

JD BM Programme Manager 29 Jan 24

JD Communications Officer 29 Jan 24

ToR BMF external evaluation 2024

 Organization development and Evaluators – Please Read

The Bench Marks Foundation is reflecting on the outcomes of its work to help shape strategy and future programming.

We are looking forward to receive offers from evaluators with a strong grounding in the civil society, human rights and activist space. For more information on the assignment and what is required for the offer please look into the Terms of Reference.

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BMF Job Advert Programmes Manager

Bench Marks Foundation Job Advert
Programmes Manager
Location: Johannesburg
Closing date of job advert: 14 February 2024

Purpose of the job and position in the organisation
The Programme Manager guides all programme implementation, ensures reflection, learning and reporting and drives innovative thinking and long-term planning. The person coordinates all programmes functions and leads the programme staff. The Programmes Manager will report directly to the Executive Director (ED) and has Programme Coordinators directly reporting to her / him.

Overview of the work of the Bench Marks Foundation (BMF)
The Bench Marks Foundation is supporting people in mining affected communities to successfully defend their human rights and fight for social and economic justice. We do this through our four programmatic areas of work:
– Conduct research on the effects of mining on communities to support Bench Mark’s advocacy work and legal processes with big corporations and government and contribute to creating counter narratives of mining affected communities
– Capacitating local communities in areas impacted and affected by mining to analyse and document their challenges and mobilise around human rights issues and resist injustices relating to corporations and government
– Engaging corporations and government around human rights and social and economic justice and investing in regional and international solidarity work
– Driving the advocacy work of the Bench Marks Foundation around communities struggles for human rights, social and economic justice and communicating about Bench Mark’s work, also in the media

For more information see the website of the Bench Marks Foundation: Bench-Marks Foundation

BMF Job Advert Advocacy and Communications Coordinator

Bench Marks Foundation Job Advert
Advocacy and Communications Coordinator
Location: Johannesburg
Closing date of job advert: 14 February 2024

Purpose of the job and position in the organisation
The Advocacy and Communications Coordinator drives the organisation’s advocacy work and manages all communications and media engagements. The purpose of the job is to advocate for communities struggles for human rights, social and economic justice in close cooperation with colleagues from the Programmes team and to make the approach and results of the organisation visible. The Advocacy and Communications Coordinator will report to the Programmes Manager and cooperate with other Coordinators in the Programmes’ Team.

Overview of the work of the Bench Marks Foundation (BMF)
The Bench Marks Foundation is supporting people in mining affected communities to successfully defend their human rights and fight for social and economic justice. We do this through our four programmatic areas of work:
– Conduct research on the effects of mining on communities to support Bench Mark’s advocacy work and legal processes with big corporations and government and contribute to creating counter narratives of mining affected communities
– Capacitating local communities in areas impacted and affected by mining to analyse and document their challenges and mobilise around human rights issues and resist injustices relating to corporations and government
– Engaging corporations and government around human rights and social and economic justice and investing in regional and international solidarity work
– Driving the advocacy work of the Bench Marks Foundation around communities struggles for human rights, social and economic justice and communicating about Bench Mark’s work, also in the media


For more information see the website of the Bench Marks Foundation: Bench-Marks Foundation

Tribute

Hamba Kahle Comrade

Constance Mogale was too young to die. Not one friend, family member, work colleague can take responsibility for not being there for her when a difference could have been made. Our country’s health system failed her. Our country’s land reform programme is still failing our communities. Constance made an enormous contribution to land reform as community leader, intellectual, first applicant in court cases1 and civil society champion.

As an exceptionally young student Connie was chosen to be part of the first cohort of young South Africans to study medicine in Cuba. She did not go to Cuba because of personal circumstances and because she was already committed to grassroots activism in land reform. But if she went to Cuba she would also have made a difference in the health reform sector, and maybe not have died young.
In the middle of last year, already twelve months into her illness, wrongly diagnosed at the time, we travelled to Lesetlheng. We met with Rakgadi Grace Maledu and her committee, and visited the Wilgespruit farmers. They are again, despite their Constitutional Court victory,2 threatened with eviction. Connie was, as always, irrepressible. Grace and Constance Returning, we took a detour through the Pilanesberg Park. Timothy, Connie’s younger son, was driving and Connie was holding sway from the front passenger seat. First we had to stop to collect elephant dung in the road… a drier piece and a fresher damper piece. Now, with the windows wide open, Connie exhorted the Big Five to reveal themselves. None the wiser, a young but very large elephant cow paused her destruction of a tree right next to the road. We stopped and Connie entered into loud conversation.

The debate ended when Tlou flapped her ears and stormed the big black Ford with Connie shouting Jo Jo Jo. Timothy raced off. When Connie got her breath back, she explained that she invited her sister to join the Bathlong clan, and not get into the car with us. Timothy recorded the memorable hearing. See here:

 

Unlike in Pilanesberg, Constance never saw her come-uppance in Parliament. It was a pleasure to appear, on a number of occasions with such a committed and diligent comrade before parliamentary committees. It was a With immense self assurance and confidence Constance was a joy to watch in action as she fielded questions and allegations by parliamentarians who were clearly out of their depth. They were unfamiliar to being challenged by our most knowledgeable peoples’ professor and peoples’ minister of lands and rural democracy.

I am personally indebted to Constance and her family. In 2017 we were at a meeting in Sefikile in Northwest. I received a strange document that would eventually end my association of three decades with the LRC. I told Connie that I want to be with my family in Cape Town. She and her son packed up and took me to the airport. She read the document. She asked me three questions, said she was satisfied with my answers. She said she would support me. She did so for the rest of her life.
Re a leboga ba Mogale.

Robala a kagiso Tlou!

Henk Smith (board member of BMC and comrade lawyer for the work that Comrade did).

I started at the LRC in 2009 and encountered Connie Mogale for the first time fairly soon as rural community members gathered in Cape Town to prepare submissions to parliament on the occasion of the Bantu Administration Repeal Bill hearings. From that day on, much of my work and indeed the LRC’s land work relied on and was made possible by her work.


Her painful passing made me reflect upon that, upon how central she was in enabling the work of so many others, and I wondered whether I told her that often enough. I probably didn’t, and I wondered why Connie was often not celebrated the way others with her extraordinary achievements would be.


The human rights sector is founded on divides and struggles within itself: between the funder and the implementer (and then, often the Global North and the Global South), the NGO and ‘the community’, the academic and the practitioner, the lawyer and the litigant. And often, between the community member who becomes the face of the campaign, and the community members at home. And often the glory, the recognition, the credit would go to one side of the divide – the leader, the lawyer, the NGO – at the expense of the others.


Over the last weeks in the many incredible tributes that people have shared about Connie, we have heard that she was not just one of these things, but many: practitioner, academic, community leader, litigant. That is unusual. But even more extraordinary is that in every role she played, she would always forego the credit, the glory and the recognition. She was just about doing the job, whatever that was.
At times she had righteous anger about the fact that others in her position, communities and CBOs, were overlooked for support by funders seduced by the NGOs and the lawyers whose efforts might be more in the public eye. She spoke out about that bravely. But it was never about her. It was about the people she fought for.


I think she was able to play so many different roles in this struggle not only because she had the skills to do so, but because she was a leader who never stepped away from her followers, and remained one of them. She defied any divides between herself and the people she led.


I am in awe of that, but aware that it is part of why she couldn’t separate herself from the struggles around her and could not rest, even when her life depended on it. In honour of her, we can and will of course take the work forward. But maybe we should also reflect upon how we divide ourselves in the sector, isolate ourselves from each other, intentionally or unintentionally. Connie was able to defy that pattern. We can at least try.


Wilmien
1 Mogale and Others v Speaker of the National Assembly and Others (CCT 73/22) [2023] ZACC 14; 2023 (9) BCLR 1099 (CC); 2023 (6) SA 58 (CC) (30 May 2023) on constitutionality of Traditional and Khoi San Leadership Act

Land Access Movement of South Africa and Others v Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces and Others (CCT40/15) [2016] ZACC 22; 2016 (5) SA 635 (CC); 2016 (10) BCLR 1277 (CC) (28 July 2016) and Speaker of the National Assembly and Another v Land Access Movement of South Africa and Others (CCT40/15) [2019] ZACC 10; 2019 (5) BCLR 619 (CC); 2019 (6) SA 568 (CC) (19 March 2019) on constitutionality of Restitution Amendment Act
2 Maledu and Others v Itereleng Bakgatla Mineral Resources (Pty) Limited and Another (CCT265/17) [2018] ZACC 41; 2019 (1) BCLR 53 (CC); 2019 (2) SA 1 (CC) (25 October 2018) LAMOSA was a friend of the court or amicus in this groundbreaking matter where the right to say no under our constitution, customary law and IPILRA was confirmed.

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The Annual Conference will happen in October 2024 on the 15th and 16th. More details in terms of Venue and Theme to follow.

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